The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious (Anime)

Title: The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious

Episodes: 1-12

Ristarte is a goddess tasked with summoning a hero to defeat a demon lord for a world she’s managing. When she discovers Seiya and his abnormally good spec sheet, she’s thrilled—and realizes too late what “impossibly cautious” actually means. Seiya won’t do ANYTHING if he can’t do it to a level of completion that drives her insane. But for this world with an unexpectedly powerful demon lord, that’s a good thing . . . isn’t it?

Although the premise is well-worn, the show is at its best when leaning hard into the comedy. Ristarte is trying to play things by the book. Seiya, however, is so abnormally insistent on over-preparing for literally everything that he drives her crazy. And she’s probably falling in love with him, which makes his deadpan rebuttals even more annoying to her.

I was also surprised to find this is basically a complete story arc, despite leaving some room at the end for further adventures.

On the other hand, the times when the show isn’t spinning a joke it tends to be dull and derivative, as it’s deliberately not trying to do anything unique with its setting or plot. Seiya is a flat character even with the development near the end, as is basically everyone except Ristarte. And Ristarte can’t quite carry the entire show by herself.

Overall I think this was worth seeing once, although if you’re not really interested in a lot of the tropes it skewers there’s not much else to it. I rate this show Recommended.

Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun! (Anime)

Title: Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun!

Episodes: 1-23

Iruma has been sold off to the demon Sullivan by his irresponsible parents—but that just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to him. His new grandpa is spoiling him rotten, and if his new school is all about eating people, well, most of them don’t even know what a human looks like. So Iruma can do his best to find friends and fit in—as long as nobody figures out his secret.

I do want to point out that the very last episode has an after-credits scene that throws a huge wrench in the happy ending, and makes me desperately want a season 2.

This was one of the unexpected good finds of the last few seasons. Iruma is an engaging lead—cheerful, optimistic, klutzy . . . and completely unable to say no to people. This leads to quite a bit of comedy, as well as a few good friends.

Much of the fun in this series is taking traditional school tropes like a school festival and reimaging it with demons. And the presence of magic makes for some truly wacky hijinks. But it’s also got some pretty strong character-based humor: Az is the straight man to Clara’s insanity, but both of them are new to this whole “friends” thing and tend to compete as much as they get along.

This is more kid-friendly than the typical anime fare, as well. I appreciated having a cleaner story than I expected, even with episodes covering classes in seduction (which was one of the funniest of the entire season, given Clara’s bizarre antics).

I think this one is best binged (at least the festival arc, because each episode feels like it covers so little ground individually). It’s a lighter, kid-friendly show that’s usually decent and sometimes excellent. I rate this show Recommended.

In/Spectre (Anime)

Title: In/Spectre

Episodes: 1-12

Two people whose lives are intertwined with the supernatural tackle the cases where both worlds collide. Kotoko is an energetic young woman who lost an eye and a leg to become the specter’s Goddess of Wisdom, whereas Kuro was tricked into gaining power. When an urban legend starts manifesting in reality, it’s going to take both of them and some help from Kuro’s ex-girlfriend to take it down . . .

I loved the manga, so I was really looking forward to this adaptation. That said, in many ways I feel this story does work better as a manga, as so much of it is about characters talking. To its credit the anime tries to make this interesting, and if you’re engaging with the back and forth of the logic it can still feel intense, but this is not really a typical action or mystery show.

The show opens with a solid first episode, then quickly dives into a smaller case that showcases a lot of the ideas that the later, larger case will tackle. Most of the season is tied up with the issue of Steel Lady Nanase, an urban legend come to life and growing increasingly violent as the rumors about her keep pushing a worst-case scenario.

The issue at hand is not the mystery—that gets resolved quickly. The real problem is that something is real that shouldn’t be, and telling the truth is only going to strengthen a killer no one will be able to stop. So the central question becomes how the three of them re-frame this whole mess to eliminate the belief that’s powering a nightmare.

Overall this is still a good watch, and one I plan to buy once it’s out. If you’re in the mood for a different kind of supernatural show, check this one out. I do hope there is a second season adapting some of the short stories covered later in the manga, as those had a lot of great moments, and the shorter format would probably work better with a show since there isn’t so much repetition. I rate this show Recommended.

The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic (Web Novel)

Title: The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic


Usato was never meant to be summoned to another world, but when a chance encounter with two perfect people from his school means he’s standing on top of their summoning circle, he ends up there anyway. Unlike them, he has no aptitude for great feats of magic. He’s a healer. But in this kingdom, healers are under the thumb of a tyrant named Rose . . .

This was awesome. Usato basically gets kidnapped twice: once into the fantasy world, and once into Rose’s squadron. Technically, she’s running the kingdom’s Red Cross. Their job is to run out into the battlefield, “kidnap” injured fighters, and bring them back to the healer’s base for treatment.

In Rose’s perspective, that means her subordinates need strength, endurance, stamina, and the ability to take a lot of pain. So she trains them with the most hellish boot camp imaginable, because after all, they can just heal themselves . . .

“I push myself to my very limits and use healing magic. Then I push my healing magic itself to its very limit, until I can no longer use it. I repeat this over and over.”

This leads to one of his friends commenting later on a fight he had:

“It was all hand-to-hand combat without any magic… I don’t blame you for being surprised. After all, Usato is a healing magician that’s all brawn.”

One joke is that Rose’s whole squadron is basically ogres, as anyone who actually makes it through her training comes out mentally twisted and physically buffed past the point of being human. Usato, as Rose’s favorite, ends up as her second-in-command.

Overall this was so much fun I’m going back to read it again now that I’ve caught up to the last released chapter. Highly Recommended.

Breakthrough with the Forbidden Master (Web Novel)

Title: Breakthrough with the Forbidden Master


Earth Lagann is tired of being the son of the hero who slew the Demon Lord. He’s never been able to live up to the lofty expectations society has for him. No matter how well he does, he’s never as good as his father. Earth has gradually been losing his motivation for everything—until the day he inadvertently discovers the spirit of the Demon Lord and ends up as his student. Now that he’s got a path to become stronger, Earth is ready to tackle the future . . .

I really liked this story. The first arc is the first 43 chapters (with 2 chapter side story) and functions as a complete story, although it’s basically the prologue to whatever Earth’s real adventures will be.

This is a story about a man who saved the world but couldn’t make time for his own family, and the son that ended up crushed under his father’s neglect and accomplishments. Earth is famous—but not for himself. Unlike the other children of the heroic seven, he hasn’t embraced his destiny as “the new generation” who will carry on their legacies.

Ironically, the Demon Lord proves to be everything his father isn’t. The Demon Lord pays attention to him, recognizes his strengths and weaknesses, trains him, and works to motivate him to dream for his own future. And despite the claims that this is all for boredom, or a form of revenge, it’s obvious that he doesn’t have to go this far for Earth.

And in the end, when Earth is trying to debut his new strength, the Demon Lord is the only one actually recognizing his efforts and accomplishments.

I do hate the princess with a burning passion. Her assumption that because she’s in love with Earth he must feel the same about her—and that it gives her the license to treat him terribly—makes me hope she finally got the message at the end. Earth hates her. He can’t stand how much she belittles him and cuts off any chance he has to make friends. But actually TELLING her this is tricky, because she’s not only the princess, but she’s strong enough to beat him into the ground (which she regularly does).

The only thing I don’t care for as much in this story is how much of a pervert Earth can be (although his maid is also partially at fault for egging him on… which also disturbs me for a different reason, since she’s literally been taking care of him since he was an infant and is basically a mom to him). Although this is played up a lot, most of this is only taking place inside his own head.

Overall this is a good story that tackles more of the aftermath of saving the world than the actual event. Given where this first arc ends, I’m really looking forward to seeing where it goes from here on out. Recommended.

Reincarnated Prince (Web Novels)

Title: Reincarnated Prince Series


Ryouko was a 34 year old woman who reincarnated into a fantasy world as the seventh prince of the line. Her former life was an internal auditor, and despite her royal heritage, her new life lacks any great powers. In fact, in her new country the corruption runs rampart and the king is mostly powerless to stop it. As Herscherik, as someone who feels his position now comes with both benefits and responsibilities, he aims to root out all the corruption he can find.

The gender-bender aspect, while interesting, is in the end more of a footnote. The one place that it’s had a somewhat significant (and extremely funny) impact is how Herscherik breaks out of an illusion in one of the later books—via a method the caster undoubtedly never guessed.

These are slower paced novels with some political maneuvering and a fair amount of slice of life. Herscherik, due to his memories of his previous life, is quite a precocious child—but what he can actually do is quite limited. Each book so far follows him as he tracks down one larger mystery and inadvertently draws some excellent subordinate to his side.

I like the various friendships he forms. Kuro, the man he meets as they’re both sneaking around the castle at night, can’t figure out the leniency this prince displays towards his intrusions. Oran ends up in the very last place he wanted to be, but that gradually becomes the most important place for him. Shiro is an oddball and an outcast, but Herscherik’s gentleness gradually draws him in.

Herscherik can be a little too perfect in these books, but at the same time his lack of personal ability helps to keep him tolerable. It’s bizarre to me that his instructors in swordsmanship and riding give up on him at three years old, as a certain level of proficiency will come with practice, but this in some ways gets redeemed later by years of repeated practice having little effect.

Overall I liked this enough to muddle through a machine translation for the un-translated volumes, and very much look forward to the fan translators making even more of this understandable. This is another one I hope gets licensed. Highly Recommended.

Villainous Daughter Aims for the Last Boss (Web Novel)

Title: Villainous Daughter Aims for the Last Boss


Irene wakes up to the reality of having been reborn into an otome game* as she’s being dumped by her fiance in front of everyone– the villainess’s ending. Given her former fiance was the crown prince, this leaves her in a precarious position, but she’s nothing if not proactive. Determining her best option is to marry into power, she immediately sets her sights on the outcast first prince, who is the prophesied demon lord with power over all monsters . . .

Irene is such a blast. Her very first words to Claude are a proposal (she doesn’t even bother with hello), as she knows she’s on a three-month-countdown to her death or exile if she can’t shake things up before then. She’s unconventional and aggressive at going for what she wants, but she never quite crosses over into being really annoying. Claude himself (the man she’s supposedly seducing) points out she’s really bad at being a seductress.

I love Claude to bits. Claude takes taciturn to the extreme, because he has so much power his mere emotions will rock the weather around him—and Irene is someone who regularly provokes those reactions out of him (it takes her a bit to realize she’s the one causing him to rain down lightning). He is fully aware of his own superior power, and does his best to keep the world safe from what he could do to it—and the world reciprocates by doing their very best to avoid him.

I especially like their first exchange, where Claude is trying to figure out why Irene wants to marry him, and asks if she actually likes him. Irene says no. But she points out that love is a feeling that can be nurtured between two people, and she intends to do just that.

And when Claude does come out of his shell more and start interacting with people, his enormous power makes this just as funny as her single-minded pursuit of him. He has no concept how actual human beings deal with each other. The side story in the second volume with his new guards (aka toys) is especially good. When asked if Claude would be angry if he were betrayed, Claude instead replies he would be sorry for them—“What are you going to do against me?”

I really want this one to get licensed ASAP so I can buy the novels in a language I can read. Highly recommended.

*Otome games are novel-styled games where the protagonist is a young girl aiming to romance one (or multiple) possible partners.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #4 (Light Novel)

Title: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #4

Author: Satoru Yamaguchi

Format: Light Novel

Keith has gone missing, and Katarina is convinced it’s all her fault. Rallying together a small team to go in search of him, she, Maria, Sora (Rufus), Jeord, and Larna set off to pursue him. To those who know the truth, this is more serious—Keith has been kidnapped, and with no demand for a ransom, it doesn’t look like his captors mean to return him . . .

This book is significantly darker than any of the previous. Although I feel compelled to point out this is the third book in a row that uses kidnapping as a major plot point (please do something different next time), it also differs in that the kidnappers this time are determined to hurt him significantly. So the stakes are higher.

Moments of comedy do surface fairly regularly, though, as Katarina is still prone to doing whatever catches her fancy. I also appreciated Raphael’s distressed office work segments (and how he makes a certain someone take responsibility for his actions).

Once again, Katarina’s potential love interests spend most of their time trying to sabotage each other. I’m warming up to Jeord more, as he feels less about cutting everyone else down and more about pursuing Katarina on his own and trying to win her heart (unlike some of the others who form alliances to spy on him to intercept him). He’s still not my favorite suitor but I respect the way he does things a lot more than many of the others.

This volume sets up what looks like a new arc, with a villain who is much more evil than anyone we’ve seen so far. I’m looking forward to more stupid shenanigans from Katarina, but maybe there’s also a better plot about to surface. I rate this book Recommended.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #3 (Light Novel)

Title: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #3

Author: Satoru Yamaguchi

Format: Light Novel

The Magic Academy is holding a school festival, and Katarina couldn’t be more excited. Food, friends, and best of all, no looming Bad Endings to spoil her fun. But she forgot that just because the game’s plot is over, doesn’t mean the dangers have passed. . .

This is the weakest book by far. The repetitive structure of telling and re-telling a scene works especially poorly here, as far too much dialogue was repeated, and much of the repetition could have conveyed the same information in a few lines rather than a few pages. If it weren’t for the later parts of the book it would be an easy skip.

However, once Katarina is kidnapped, the story picks up significantly. Not only do new character perspectives help the re-telling portions to feel less dull, but Katarina manages to be so stupid throughout the whole endeavor that her kidnappers feel the need to sit down and explain that she’s been kidnapped, and isn’t that supposed to be a problem?

Overall if you liked the first two books a lot, this one is probably okay just to keep things going. But if the retelling portions really annoyed you, then this book is going to be a slog. Even if you liked those parts, it’s still something to skim here. I rate this book Neutral.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #2 (Light Novel)

Title: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #2

Author: Satoru Yamaguchi

Format: Light Novel

Now at the Magic Academy, which was the setting in the original game, Katarina has to be more alert than ever for the events that signal her upcoming potential Bad Ends. But even though some things are going well, a hidden character’s route may still spell her doom. . .

By this point it is completely obvious to the reader that most of Katarina’s feared Catastrophic Bad Ends are something that exist entirely in her own imaginings. But because she continues to see her friends as their game characters (and therefore “vulnerable” to falling for the actual game protagonist with only a few events), things that remind her of the game again provoke hugely disproportionate responses.

And things that don’t—such as the whole problem with Dark Magic—lead to the same mix of stupidity and kindness that baffles everyone, especially the person trying to be a villain. Anyone who expects a baseline common sense in Katarina is bound to be disappointed . . .

I do feel slightly bad for Jeord, Katarina’s fiancee. He’s probably the one suffering the most from her constantly thinking he’s the same as his game character, as she spends more time figuring out how she’ll defend herself against him and his “black heart” and trying to break their engagement rather than realizing at this point he’s willing to put his considerable talent and resources to whatever she needs. Also, despite actually having an engagement, everyone around him is doing everything in their power to break them up.

I’m also less fond of the fact that everyone Katarina’s age that she interacts with ends up wanting to marry her (guys and girls). There doesn’t seem to be anyone who just wants to be friends, so the potential love interests are skyrocketing to the point where nobody really gets any decent character development after their introduction, because at this point it’s more about their competition for her.

Things more or less wrap up at the conclusion of this volume, as Katarina has reached the end of the game’s timeline. You could stop here and the story would feel complete. I rate this book Recommended.